Friday, July 12, 2013

xtracycle sidecar: biting the bullet

Today I finally got to try out the Xtracycle Sidecar attachment, designed to fit onto frame of an Xtracycle kit, a Surly Big Dummy or a Sun Atlas cargo bike.

Clever Cycles had a Sidecar that was essentially a prototype, demo'd last year during the first Disaster Relief Trials. They've had it ever since and while it has attracted some attention, no one has bought it. I asked T (one of the proprietors) if he'd let me try it out and he happily obliged, hooking it up to a Surly Big Dummy on his showroom floor. I rode it around the block several times, both empty and with loads of various weights. When T. stood on the platform it was simply too much weight and I could not keep the bike upright and balance against the load. Then T. put a large box with a dismantled bike on the platform -- that weighed about 40 lbs., a weight that was more manageable (and probably about as much as I would want to carry on one side anyway). With the platform empty the bike feels pretty weight-neutral side to side and rides well. So ultimately I would have to figure out if this would allow me to haul a guitar and amp to gigs and keep things stable; and if the asking price was worth it.

T. and I agreed on a fair price that was significantly lkess than I would pay for one of the current production versions. Tomorrow I will bring my Surly, hook it up and take it home.

Below: photos of the sidecar I'm buying, attached to the shop's Big Dummy. The mode of attachment has not change from this prototype to the current production model -- it's still two bicycle quill stems that fit into the frame. The only thing that has changed is that the production platform is a plastic composite. Frankly, I think I'll like the plywood platform better, even if it does add a little more weight. Figure I'll strap the amp on the inside next to the bike and the guitar on the outside next to the amp (since I will no longer utilize the wideloader or longloader on that side). I may leave the wideloader on the other side. I'll play around with it and see what configuration makes the most sense. But overall I think this will solve my stability issues pretty well.

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